Skip to content

El Alamein veteran recalls battle and emotional return

Today, the 75th anniversary of the battle which has become to be known as one of the most significant of the Second World War will be marked at a ceremony in the CWGC’s El Alamein Cemetery and Memorial in Egypt.

The commemoration will be the largest for many years and, as the 75th, is likely to be the last on this scale. President Sisi of Egypt will be present at the cemetery during the day, as well as high-ranking dignitaries from Australia, Germany, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, India and South Africa. Multinational Force Observers currently based in Sinai (including British, Australian and New Zealand troops) will also be there. 

Sir Tim Laurence, Vice Chairman of the CWGC, who is representing the Commission at the ceremony, said: "The historic importance of the Battle of El Alamein was recognised by Winston Churchill after the war, when he wrote: "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat." Victory was total, but the cost in lives was great.  In Egypt alone, almost 29,000 Commonwealth service personnel died in the Second World War.

"The significance of the battle, and its human cost, are embodied in the CWGC El Alamein Cemetery and Memorial.  In terms of its area, it is one of the largest Commission sites in the world.  Our historic commitment to honour the dead with beautiful planting here faces perhaps its greatest test, and I am proud of the work of our gardeners – the majority of them Egyptian – whose hard work and skill ensures that carefully chosen indigenous plants flower amongst the thousands of headstones set in the desert sands.”